Why do you need a marketing plan?
Having a coordinated marketing plan enables you to increase your chances of success by strongly positioning your business and its products and services in the marketplace. It helps you define your market, target customers and competition. This allows you to stand out from the crowd and reach your ideal customers. With a clear strategy in place, you and your team will be able to tailor your messaging to get the most out of your marketing spend.
Here are our top tips for building a marketing plan on the fly:
- Reassess your past efforts
Consider your previous marketing efforts and make a note of what has worked for your business and where you fell a little flat. It is a good idea to combine the most successful elements of your past efforts and feed them into your marketing mix, but remember that successful marketing is about innovation and new ideas, not the same predictable methods.
Every successful business has run a marketing campaign that hasn’t fired on all cylinders – the most important thing is learning from your mistakes and honing your efforts as you develop a marketing plan that works.
If your previous efforts have fallen short and left you scratching your head, now’s the time to go back to the drawing board and reassess how to best engage your target market. Your previous efforts could have been dampened by budget constraints, timing, or by relying on the wrong methods. These are issues that can be resolved by conducting market research and a little strategic planning.
- Profile your target customer
It is never a good idea to take a scattergun approach to marketing. Target the kind of customers most receptive to your business concept to maximise your chances of success.
Start by taking a fresh look at your target customer as they may have changed over time and find out about their:
- Approximate level of expendable income
- Sensitivity to price, quality and service.
- Conduct market research
Assumptions are your enemy – do your best to dismiss them with detailed market research you can build concrete strategies on. Can you remember the last time you held a focus group, product demonstration event, or researched the latest market trends and data?
It is easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day business, but don’t forget to take time out to innovate and learn more about what makes your customers tick. Consider approaching your target audience directly for their feedback about your latest product or service offering and be prepared to listen to their opinion.
- Start building a customer database
If you don’t have a customer database, you should consider starting one. The easiest way to capture information is usually during the first sales contact. Aim to record details quickly, so that you don’t make people wait, while still capturing critical details (such as name and an email address) that you’ll need for marketing.
It is also important to keep you customer database up-to-date. Make a point of getting details verified on a regular basis to avoid wasting money and sales opportunities by sending mail, emails and texts to the wrong address or number.
- Know the competition
Keeping an eye on the competition is vital for finding your point-of-difference and expanding your market. Do you regularly monitor your closest competitors? Knowing where competitors are weak and where they have an advantage helps position your business effectively. You might be surprised at how much you can find out about a competitor from their website, Facebook page and online reviews.
Consider your competitors’:
- Overall quality and service – are they a cost leader, or do they offer something unique?
- Expertise – do they share their industry knowledge and experience?
- Marketing mix – are they advertising online or in print?
- Key intellectual property (IP).
- Revisit your point-of-difference
Your point-of-difference is the reason why your customers should buy from you rather than elsewhere. Even if you think you’ve got your point-of-difference defined, consider talking to your staff and best customers, and jot down a list of what they see as your key advantages.
Does your existing marketing method really communicate your individual point-of-difference? You might be surprised to find that many customers are less concerned about price and product range and more concerned with service and perceived value for money. For example, if a competitor beats you on price, you could change tactic and focus on your superior industry knowledge and experience.
- Choose your strategies
Once you know a little bit more about your target market, you should have a pretty good idea of the marketing methods they are most receptive too.
Most businesses rely on a mix of methods – but it’s up to you to choose the methods that will best suit your business.
Here are some of the most tried and true options:
- Digital marketing – such as internet and email advertising.
- Video advertising – including television and online options such as YouTube, or embedded video content on your website.
- Direct marketing – such as a coordinated letter mail out or flyer drop.
- Radio advertising.
Always consider whether your marketing methods are keeping pace with technology. No matter what kind of business you run, technology and the internet will play an increasingly important role in your marketing.
- Form your plan of action
Remember that marketing isn’t a one off exercise – you’ll need to regularly measure your success and return on investment (ROI).
To have the best chance of success you’ll need to keep your goals achievable, with specific and measurable targets. It helps to treat your plan like a living document by scheduling regular time to revisit your plan and evaluate your progress as you track towards your goals.
Also remember to take the time to celebrate smaller successes as it will help you stay motivated and is a great confidence booster for staff.